Saturday, September 13, 2014

Brown is the New Black Gloves

The plan for this project has its roots in a colour theory course I took back in 2001 at George Brown College in Toronto. One night the instructor gave each member of the class a personal colour theory analysis, and I found out that I was not, as I had cluelessly thought, a winter, but an autumn. Even before taking that course, I had been a big subscriber to the seasonal palette wardrobe theory, which essentially holds that everyone looks best in a certain colour palette. I'd found it a sound idea to shop and dress in strict accordance to one palette, because it meant that I didn't need to own so many clothes given that clothes, shoes, and accessories chosen according to a given colour scheme work together so much better. It should also mean one looks one's best, but it hadn't in my case as I'd been building my wardrobe on the wrong damn palette. So a long, expensive process of transitioning to an autumn palette wardrobe began.

I was basically done with the transition process in four years or so, but this year I decided to finally get rid of the last lingering black items in my wardrobe. There weren't many. Basically it was just several pairs of track pants, because I could never find any track pants that were dark brown and wasn't about to buy them in, say, orange or turquoise, and a few things I had kept to wear with the black track pants: a black backpack bought in 1998, and a pair of black wool gloves bought around the same time. Both backpack and gloves were, as you would expect, much the worse for their sixteen years of use, and were about due to be replaced anyway. I ordered two pairs of dark brown yoga pants and a snazzy new leather-trimmed canvas Everlane backpack over the net, and then, when it came to replacing the wool gloves, decided after a quick, discouraging Google for brown wool gloves that I should make them myself. A rummage through my stash produced a nearly full 100g skein of dark brown DK wool, so I then searched for a glove pattern that required DK weight yarn.

The above pattern was the one I settled on. It's the Hands of Blue pattern, designed by Lucy Hague, and is available for free.

And here are photos of the finished gloves that I made. The yarn used here is Sirdar's Country Style DK. It's machine washable, which is good as I always found I had to wash my black wool gloves regularly. I had bought and used a little of that 100g skein to make a panda bear dress and purse for my grandniece in 2013, and even after doing the gloves there's still a good bit of the skein left. I think I could make another glove out of it, which is good to know in case I should lose one of this existing pair. I still have a single cashmere-lined brown calfskin glove, the mate for which I lost something like seven years ago, that I can't bear to throw away, though eventually I'll probably cut up the leather and use it for trim on some sewing project or for doll shoes or some such.

These gloves are perhaps the third pair of gloves I have ever made. I discovered from my first couple of glove-knitting experiences that I disliked knitting fingers because they're so fiddly, and I found out I still feel that way. It is worth the work, though, as you can fit the gloves exactly to your hand. Then too, I like being able to make gloves with the long wrists that are harder to find in manufactured gloves, and which make for a clean line at the wrist and leave no wrist exposed to the winter elements. And these gloves cost me nothing at all to make, which was especially gratifying considering that I'll mostly be using them for hiking and shovelling snow.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Reversible Diamonds Afghan, Part Deux

This is the Reversible Diamonds afghan, designed by Shari Haux and published in Easy Afghans for Knitters, which I have just finished knitting for the second time.

I first made this afghan for my bedroom back in 2008, and though I like the pattern I made the mistake of choosing the wrong yarn for it. I used an acrylic worsted, TLC Amore in "Vanilla", which is more accurately described as a very pale peach. It was pretty enough, but was so light and thin it had no warmth to it at all, which is not exactly a desirable quality in an afghan intended for use in a Toronto house that was built in 1912 and that is warmed by a 1991 furnace. So even on the day I finished the peach afghan (and I still remember the relief and delight with which I cast off that last stitch with exactly 6" of yarn to spare!), I knew I'd have to eventually make another afghan for my room.

Introducing the new version of the Reversible Diamonds afghan. However, I think I've again chosen the wrong yarn for it. This time I used Phentex Fashion Twenty-Three in "Icicle White", a super bulky blend of acrylic, polyester, mohair and wool. I bought eleven 100g skeins of this yarn from the Zellers in my area circa 2011 for one dollar per skein, plus tax. Then I discovered I had two more identical skeins in my stash that I'd bought a number of years before as seconds. This afghan therefore cost me under $15 to make. This is not why I decided I'd chosen the wrong yarn.

The yarn proved to be something of a drag to knit with, because there was so much resistance from the fluffy texture, and mohair always does mat together. It's no fun to have to fight with your yarn at every stitch. I initially began this afghan in February and it wound up being one of those projects I could not keep myself at and kept putting aside to work on anything else, until mid-August, when I took it up with grim resignation and told myself I could not work on anything else until it was done. However, that "hard to knit with" quality is also not why I feel this was a bad yarn choice for this afghan, because obviously that's a time limited drawback.

This yarn does have quite a bit going for it: it feels nice, it looks good, and it certainly can't be accused of not being warm. So what's the fatal flaw? The big drawback is that this yarn is hand wash only, and this afghan is 3'6" x 6'4". I didn't clue into this until the afghan was half done. Oh well, I suppose I can wash it in the bathtub a few times a year, put it through the spin cycle on the washing machine, and spread it out on towels on the attic floor to dry. And cross my fingers that my cat finds other locations to yak up his hairballs so that the afghan needn't be washed more than a few times a year. Trilby never did put the old afghan (which was machine washable and dryable) to that purpose, so there's hope of that.

Besides refiguring the number of stitches in a row to suit a super bulky yarn rather than the worsted this pattern called for, I accidentally made one other mod. The border is supposed to be done in a seed stitch, but I think I messed that up back in February and decided to just go with the stitchwork I'd inadvertently come up with instead. I call it "moss ribbing".